Chapter 3: Weight Management 61 Meal Planning Made Easy As mentioned previously, proper nutrition is likely the most important factor in effective weight management. As a result, implementing a safe eating strategy that can be maintained is imperative for both long-term health and keeping the weight off. To help develop healthy dietary habits, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (n.d.) developed the MyPlate initiative which provides dietary guidelines regarding daily caloric intake and consumption of the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Likewise, Meal Planning Made Easy (MPME) was developed using these MyPlate guidelines. Additional information regarding the recommended timing, serving size, and specific examples for the different food groups is provided in Appendix C. Meal Planning Made Easy is not a diet plan, but rather a proposed eating strategy. In essence, MPME helps users to meet their goal number of calories, based on their physical activity classification and desired weight management goal (i.e., lose weight, gain weight, maintain weight), as well as maintain the recommended number of servings for each food group per day. As with any eating strategy, there are potential benefits and limitations associated with this program. Provided below are some potential pros and cons associated with MPME. Pros: Cons: • No counting calories • Proposed timing of certain food subgroups may not work for everyone • Helps to prevent / limit nutritional deficiencies • Allows for a vast array of food choices • Serving sizes within some food groups vary considerably • Can be tailored to vegan, vegetarian and dairyfree diet plans • Does not account for food combinations (e.g., casseroles, soups, stews) Figure 3.11 provides some healthy plate options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These options are designed to help MPME users meet the daily caloric intake and consumption recommendations proposed by MyPlate for the five major food groups (i.e., fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy).